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October 7, 2019

Launching A Luxury Hotel

Stock Exchange Hotel co-owner and GG Hospitality CEO Winston Zahra shares his insight on the Manchester hotel industry and explains what it takes to open a successful luxury hotel

Maltese born Winston has been in the luxury hotel industry for more than 25 years. Two years ago he became the CEO of GG Hospitality, the hospitality management company owned by Gary Neville, Ryan Giggs and Peter Lim, which manages the Hotel Football brand and new luxury boutique Stock Exchange Hotel in Manchester city centre. Winston is also a co-owner of Stock Exchange Hotel which is due to open on 15th November.

“There is an incredible amount of development in Manchester at the moment.  The overall offering and experience in the city is improving daily and the hotel sector, especially the luxury hotel market, is no exception.  Competition is rising – the number of hotel rooms is growing by close to 5% per year – and with that, guest expectations are also increasing, along with the demand for luxury accommodation in Manchester.

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“It takes a lot of courage to open a new hotel and I always believe that any competitor property should be treated with utmost respect.  Ultimately we all have to collectively work together to promote the city as a great destination for both leisure and business travellers first. Once that effort bears fruit then where those visitors to the city actually stay is somewhat secondary, although of course, we fight for every piece of business like everyone else does.

“This in turn encourages investors like Gary Neville, Ryan Giggs and myself to go the extra mile and do our best to create hotel offerings which are at the top end of the scale.

“Stock Exchange Hotel will fall into the luxury hotel category and I believe the time is ripe for the type of hotel we are opening.  A new hotel in the heart of Manchester city centre, within a building steeped in history and of a size that enables a very personalised and tailored type of service. Our approach therefore has been about curating the continuation of a story around the heritage of the building and its original use in a meticulous way, combined with luxurious touches, without being ostentatious.

“Stock Exchange Hotel is a unique offering by virtue of the building it is located in.  Having opened as the Manchester Stock Exchange in 1906, the building has an incredible history.  Today we consider ourselves guardians of this magnificent building and have done our best to create an offering within it that not only respects the heritage but one that will continue to tell a story.

“My top tips on launching a new luxury hotel are:

  1. Create a bespoke design that respects the building the hotel is in. This I feel is essential and ultimately defines the product. With the design of Stock Exchange Hotel we have recognised the most important elements of the heritage of the old Stock Exchange
  2. Location has got to be one of the most crucial elements for any hotel.  You need to be where guests want to be or they simply won’t turn up, unless you have created a very unique and specific offering
  3. Service levels need to be exceptional. You can have a fantastic design and product but if the service does not match you are not going to succeed. Luxury hotel guests expect the hotel team to be able to anticipate whatever they want by way of service.  If they are making basic demands and requests then the team has failed. At Stock Exchange Hotel we need to be anticipating those requests before they even arise. That is what will make us stand out
  4. Within the luxury hotel market there needs to be the right level of special and personalised touches across the whole guest experience.  These may emanate from the design process, the choice of finishes or the way the guest journey is tailored. Ultimately guests need to leave a hotel feeling that they have been treated in a very special way. We want them to return and we want them to recommend us as a result of the experience they have enjoyed
  5. I strongly believe that by aligning a luxury hotel like Stock Exchange Hotel with other prestigious established properties across the world can build reputation. It can also build brand awareness and help to establish trust. We are a member of the Relais & Chateaux fellowship – many of the member properties are historical buildings and all share a passion for delivery of excellent service and cuisine
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